Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Regency Fabrics, Part 29

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like. So here we go!

Today’s four samples are from the March 1813 issue of Ackermann’s Repository. The overall condition of my copy is very good, with just some toning around the edges of the page. The samples are in overall good shape as well, with perhaps a bit of toning on sample No. 4 and some white staining on No. 2.

No. 1, a celestial blue figured sarsnet, adapted equally for the dress robe, bodice, and spencer, as for the spring mantle or pelisse. Trimmings of swansdown, thread lace, fancy gimp, or the new imperial shag, are appropriate decorations for articles composed of this material. It is sold by Messrs. George and Bradley, Holywell-st. Strand.

My comments: This has faded until it’s almost impossible to see that it was once blue, alas, but it remains a very pretty fabric, of a finely woven silk with a twill background and a floral-like pattern scattered over it. It seems too light in weight to be used for a pelisse, but would indeed have made a lovely dress robe.

No. 2, a figured taffety, from the house of Messrs. Layton and Shears. This unique article is calculated for the intermediate order of costume, and is to be purchased of various shades; and when contrasted with trimmings of coloured satin or ribband, forms a most pleasing domestic habit.—To be purchased of Messrs. Layton and Shears, Bedford House, Henrietta-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: It’s a little hard to see it in the scan because of the whitish staining, but this has a stylized leaf pattern woven into it, with an overall twill weave. It feels like a light but sturdy cotton.

No. 3, a fashionable small patterned printed cambric, for morning dresses or domestic wear.—Dresses composed of this simple material, are either formed in plain wraps, high gowns, buttoned or trimmed down the front; or in the cottage jacket and petticoat. These small patterned printed cambrics are considered even more genteel than the white robe, for morning wear. The article here exhibited is sold by T. and J. Smith, No. 3, Tavistock-street, Covent-Garden.

My comments: Well, my preference would be for “white robes” for morning wear (some of the white muslin morning dresses in Ackermann are just charming) but to each her own. This looks like quilting cotton, but is a bit heavier in weight; the threads are tightly and evenly woven.

No. 4 is a sample of the imperial patent cotton-thread shirting, brought out by Mr. Millard, the proprietor of the East India Warehouse, No. 16, Cheapside. Its excellence consists in its desirable property of preventing the taking of cold, its superior durability, and its great economy, being of a fineness of quality equal to, and nearly half the price of, Irish and foreign linens. The most skilful and eminent of the faculty will hold it in high estimation, being of a nature to prevent a too profuse perspiration, which flannel is liable to create, at the same time that it does not too severely check that vital principle of health. We, therefore, fell much pleasure in recommending the article to the particular attention of our readers, on account of its superior comfort and utility. It is sold, whole-sale and by the piece, at the before-mentioned warehouse, No. 16, Cheapside, and at no other house in London. The quality of 2s. per yard is equal to that of linen at 3s. 6d. and that of 2s. 6d.to linen of 4s. 6d. and so on in progressive advancement.—Foreign orders, and merchants purchasing for exportation, are treated on the usual liberal terms peculiar to this house.

My comments: This is interesting stuff. The thread in this fabric is fairly fine but not as evenly spun as some of the other cotton fabrics we see here for ladies’ dresses; it’s a tad heavier than the cotton of today’s pinpoint oxford cloth. The true selling point seems to be the idea that cotton prevented one from catching colds because of its breathability. Note that it is Indian cotton, which was just on the upswing in terms of sales.

Any thoughts on this month’s fabrics?


QNPoohBear said...

I LOVE the sarsnet! The others are not to my taste. I just finished reading Dress in the Age of Jane Austen. It's a must-read to go with your fabrics. I learned that a warehouse was the equivalent of a big box store selling goods cheaply rather than expensive, high quality.

Marissa Doyle said...

That book is in my TBR pile!